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Statement by the Hon. K. D Knight, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica delivered at the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, 13-18 December 2005, Hong Kong

Posted in: Statements from CARICOM Meetings by admin | 16 December 2005 | Release Ref #: 226/2005 | 2051

    (CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) We are all privileged to meet in this bustling and fascinating host city - Hong Kong. I congratulate the Chair of this Conference and his able team for all the logistical and administrative arrangements, which have made our stay here enjoyable despite the hectic schedule. Jamaica is committed to trade liberalisation and to the World Trade Organisation. We will continue to work towards a successful Doha Round. Yet there is cause for concern. Many in the developing world were buoyed by the expressed commitment to a development round that came out of the Doha discussions and which was reaffirmed at Cancun. Today, my country has to face the disappointment of declining terms of trade and the erosion of long-standing preferential arrangements for our two largest agricultural exports, banana and sugar. In 2003, the World Bank asserted that a “pro-poor Doha Round could increase global income by as much as US$520 billion and lift an additional 144 million people out of poverty”. The Bank further projected that there would be US$832 billion in estimated gains from global trade liberalisation of which the majority- $539 billion- would accrue to the developing world. Institutions and economists are now adjusting the economic models and numbers. There is growing recognition that the gains to the global economy for many will be less than anticipated. The World Banks’ projections now suggest that global gains from trade liberalization are more likely to be US$ 96 billion with only about US $16 billion, realisable in 2015, going to the entire developing world. A paradox of the Doha Round is that even while the projected gains for a large number of developing countries appear to be diminishing, the demands being made on them by negotiating partners are increasing. It is to be emphasised that this is of great concern to CARICOM member states and to other vulnerable economies especially since there has been no unequivocal commitment to take account of their situation through flexible and operational provisions. Mr. Chairman, we recognize the attempts of some developed member states to buttress our efforts at development through proposals such as “aid for trade” and other ongoing initiatives geared towards improvements in the delivery of technical assistance and capacity building. In this regard, we consider support for the valuable work of organizations such as the International Trade Centre vitally important. Mr. Chairman, this Conference can only be a success to the extent that there is discernible movement on the development agenda. What do we mean when we speak of the development dimension in the WTO context? By development I am referring to: the promotion of the productive sectors through enhanced trade the sustained development of the commodity sector building supply capacity and competitiveness the increase in effective market access for developing countries in areas of export interest. real recognition of the asymmetries between developed and developing countries which are determined by factors such as the size of our economies, our supply capacity and institutional and regulatory capacities. real sensitivity towards the adjustment concerns resulting from trade reforms and liberalisation. Mr. Chairman, my delegation is committed to having our interests clearly reflected in the following key negotiating areas: ● Agriculture We have given our support to differentiated tariff cuts, which will prove less onerous for developing countries. We remain committed to the inclusion of Special Products, the Special Safeguard Mechanism and longstanding preferences – all of which are provided for in the agreed July Framework. ● NAMA Full recognition must be given to the impact on fragile industries and to the revenue implications for small vulnerable economies. We will continue to argue for an appropriate formula and co-efficient. We maintain that paragraph 8 flexibilities are an essential element required by developing countries in order to manage the process of liberalization. It must be remembered that from the first Round to the Uruguay Round, developed countries reduce their average tariffs from around 40% to 10%. Then in the Uruguay Round, there was a further reduction to an average of about 6%. It is now being proposed that a significant number of developing countries including CARICOM Members, reduce their average tariffs by 60% and more in one huge leap. This is not acceptable. ● Services Jamaica continues to register its objection to the use of any modality based on mandatory targets, plurilateral processes, formulae or benchmarking. We have also identified specific areas of export interest, particularly under Mode 4. ● The Development Agenda The development dimension remains a central concern, both as a cross cutting issue and as well in our efforts to make special and differential treatment provisions more precise, effective and operational. ● Small Economies We recognize that some progress has been made in the Work Programme on Small Economies. Let me however underscore that we will not be satisfied with language or promises that are not translated into specific and operational provisions which provide flexibility. In closing, I take this opportunity to welcome the new members to the WTO – Saudi Arabia and Tonga. Let us make this Ministerial Conference memorable in our quest for renewed vigour and fresh commitment to the Development Agenda. Our historical obligation is to ensure a negotiated outcome in which development is truly the centerpiece. I thank you.